Ontario Walleye FishingOntario Walleye Fishing Tips and Resorts
Walleye and Bait
Ask any fisherman that targets walleye and he will mention that “you can’t catch them if you can’t find them.” Despite the body of water where you usually target walleyes go where their menu is being served. The walleye are near the top of the food chain, so find their favorite meal and you will find them.
This statement is true all year long, so the key to this is finding walleye most of the time, you must answer two questions: What bait fish for the walleye swims in your targeted water? Where can you find these bait fish right now? Find the bait fish and you can be certain the walleye will not be swimming far from the forage fish.
My buddy, Doc believed so strongly that forage fish are the key to walleye angling success he once drove 200 miles, round trip to stake his knowledge on the walleye bait fish connection while a competitor in a local walleye tournament. Doc fished in the main river where the schools of walleye chased smelt. He placed fourth in the tournament and the winner of the competition fished the same pattern.
For Doc, the knowledge established that the first step to walleye fishing success starts with what forage fish swims in your targeted body of water and what bait the walleye dine on now. Let’s look at yellow perch. They are bottom feeders and school off the weeds. Where are the walleyes? Walleye feeding on yellow perch will feed on perch near the bottom off the weed’s edge. However the walleye will eat while suspended when their menu consists of alewives, shad or white fish. That’s because these three bait fish suspend while eating the plankton they live on.
Doc says, when you find white and yellow perch, whitefish or shad on these bodies of water you will always find walleye. Doc proved this bait walleye connection theory when he hooked and I netted him a 13 1/2-pound fish, his biggest walleye to date.
Sometimes the yellow and white perch form large schools to round up the smaller bait fish, like minnows. The perch start to eat the minnows and some perch become injured during the feeding frenzy. The walleye stay close by the perch and dine on minnows hurt during the feeding spree. The walleyes also target the perch that are about four or five inches long.
My buddy, Doc said that, walleye that follow shad or white fish usually take his bait in 10 feet of water or less. Doc also said he found a similar pattern when walleye follow small white perch in the spring time. Doc felt the white perch were the meal of the day so he trolled a shallow running crank bait colored similar to white perch. Doc used a little heavier line making the lure run just below the surface. His reasoning was the walleye were below the white perch feeding on them so he ran his lure about as deep as the suspected location of the white perch.
Once Doc locates walleye on the body of water he anchors and casts to them using small, 1/16 ounce jigs. For his casting rod Doc uses a six to 6 1/2 foot, medium-light rod with a flimsy tip. This type of tip allows him to get that extra distance needed as it whips the lure forward. The colors of the jig tails are chartreuse and orange. He also tips the jigs with a minnow about two inches in length. Usually the walleye take the bait when it falls.
Doc will let the jig settle to the bottom and then retrieve it by lifting and dropping the tip of his pole six to eight inches at a time. During the summer months Doc uses a 1/8 ounce jig and he likes light, four-pound test high visibility line for this purpose.
“With a soft bite he uses as light of line as he can see. He likes to line watch,” looking for the bow in the line that signals bottom contact or the tell tale flick that says, you have a hit.
Also Doc said he would catch white or yellow perch on one side of the boat and catch walleyes on the other side of the boat. Doc suggests an angler should continue fan casting until you catch your first walleye and then continue casting you presentation to that area.
Don’t get too upset about the pleasure boats passing by you. Doc has caught fish once the boat passed by. Doc’s message to all walleye anglers is to find what is on their menu that day and you will find the walleye.
On your graph, you see a school of bait fish. On the edge of the bait fish you see larger blips that you believe are walleyes. With your trolling motor you hold your boat over the school of bait fish. On your jig you have tipped it with a one to two inch minnow. The minnow tries to get to the bottom but your lead headed jig prevents the minnow from going anywhere. After a few minutes you feel the tap, tap of a soft mouth walleye and you set the hook. You were correct. The walleye staged off to the side of the bait fish preparing to eat.
For these light biters in the deep water a great rod choice is the spinning rod. Manufacturers design these walleye fishing poles so you can lay your finger right on the rod blank and you can feel the slightest tap, tap. These manufacturers make a rod that gives you amazing action and feel. On your reel you spooled up with four pound test Fireline. The lighter line means less water resistance that allows you to use a lighter jig and still retain a straight down presentation.
When jigging, use whatever size jig it takes to get straight down to the bottom. Use as little a jig as possible because these soft mouthed walleye will usually hit the offering on the drop.
The best jigging presentation in deep water is to drop the jig about two to three feet at a time until you hit bottom. Once your jig hits the bottom raise the tip of your pole using a popping movement. While the jig is moving upward raise the tip of the pole so you take up the slack in the line. Let the jig settle back on the bottom for about ten seconds. Now hop and pop the jig each time letting it set on the bottom for about ten seconds. Repeat this presentation until you get a strike and then continue this presentation. With your spinning outfit you can add or subtract weight as you wish. Also you can make the distance between your split shot and hook be at a different distance apart. This is your choice. A jig tipped with bait and no split shot or a jig with a split shot added.
Doc prefers Fireline because of its exceptional sensibility. Another set up Doc uses is to slide a colored plastic bead about twelve inches up the line. He then adds a split shot above a snap swivel. To the snap swivel Doc adds one or two very fine lines with small very sharp hooks. One hook has about an eighteen inch leader and the other has about a twelve inch leader. On one hook he adds a minnow and on the other hook he adds a worm or leach. This small hook let minnow swim freely and the worm wriggles enticing choosy walleyes to take the bait. You can use this presentation when fishing deep water walleyes especially when the predator fish are in a neutral or negative feeding nature.
Bottom bouncing is a great option for deep fish. Just because Doc calls it bottom bouncing doesn’t mean he keeps the lure on the bottom. If his fish finder says the bait fish and walleye are ten feet up off the bottom he raises his lure to be ten feet off the bottom and drags his offering through the suspended fish.
When bottom bouncing you have two choices of set ups. You can use a small snap swivel when using spinners or leaders and hooks. The other choice is to tip your jig with live bait and bottom bounce the presentation. To attract walleyes rig, jig and bounce your offering off the bottom.
Doc regularly proves his theories on a group of large and small lakes in our back yard. It was there he first learned about walleye links. The bait fish are really yellow and white perch. The lakes are full of these bait fish, and the walleye take advantage and gorge themselves on these panfish.
by Fred Kane